Reviews, Nominations, Honorable Mentions

Here are some of the comments reviewers have made concerning the work of Dave Smeds. The quotes are grouped under the titles of the works they refer to, in the approximate order the works were first published, the most recent stuff at the end.

The Sorcery Within

  • Locus bestseller, October, 1985.
  • Locus recommended reading list, 1986.
  • Nebula Award preliminary ballot, 1986.
  • "A remarkable book...head and shoulders above the others." --Orson Scott Card, Science Fiction Review

    "One of the finest pieces of fantasy I've read in the last few close to perfect as you are going to find!" --Chuq Von Rospach, OtherRealms

    "Fascinating...well-crafted...exotic." --John C. Bunnell, Dragon

    The Schemes of Dragons

    "Dave Smeds writes fantasy with the inventiveness and rigor of the best sort of hard science fiction. His story of a world being conquered by a Hitlerian dragon is so real that when you set it on the same shelf with woodsy-elvesy fantasies, within a week they crumble into dust. Most of all, though, what impresses me is the way Smeds makes all his characters deep enough to have the illusion of life, a bit of magic that most fantasy writers never quite master." --Orson Scott Card, F&SF

    "THE SORCERY WITHIN was one of the best first novels I've read...I'm happy to say THE SCHEMES OF DRAGONS avoids the sophomore letdown. Smeds has built a complex society into the book, with many things happening in different areas at the same time. While this book is technically a sequel, the story it tells stands alone, so there's no need to read THE SORCERY WITHIN to enjoy it to its fullest. I recommend this strongly." --Chuq Von Rospach, OtherRealms

    Piper in the Night

    "Nebula Award nominee Smeds should only enhance his reputation with this well-crafted dark fantasy set during the Vietnam War. Mixing distinctly diverse elements into a coherent story with a success that would have eluded most genre authors, Smeds has created one of the better fantasies to come out of the Vietnam experience." --Publishers Weekly


  • Locus recommended reading list, 1988.
  • Year's Best Fantasy honorable mention, 1988.
  • Year's Best SF honorable mention, 1988.
  • Nebula Award preliminary ballot, 1988.
  • "Dave Smeds's 'Goats' [is] a searing, haunting, frightening tale set during the [Vietnam War], but far from the battle zone, on a deserted island of the Hawaiian chain that has been used for target practice since World War II. As the story begins a group of G.I.'s is dropped off to serve as observers for the marksmanship trials of naval gunners and pilots tuning up for a tour in Vietnam. But, as the narrator, a corpsman who has done Vietnam tours of his own, puts it, 'It's true we had work to do. But the work didn't last forever. [Then] vacation time. Disneyland.' The after-hours entertainment is the semiofficial duty of reducing the number of goats who inhabit the island. The G.I.'s attack the goats with all the planning and materiel of a wartime expedition, achieving an orgy of bloodletting that makes Vietnam seem like a church picnic--or would, had Mr. Smeds not skillfully established symbolic connections between 'Disneyland' and the war. The soldiers believe that the goats can be killed with impugnity. But by story's end that belief is challenged. In the final image the narrator awakens to a new moral reality: 'I slowly slung my rifle back on my shoulder, my hand slick against the stock. I turned to continue on, but I couldn't get my feet to move. What was I doing here anyway? I was chasing a drunk, armed lance corporal over an island full of bombs....I tucked the flashlight under an armpit to light the barren path back to the base camp...." --David Bradley, The New York Times Book Review


  • Locus recommended reading list, 1988.
  • Year's Best SF honorable mention, 1988.
  • Top "Idea Story" for 1987, Science Fiction Chronicle, 1988.
  • Nebula Award preliminary ballot, 1988.
  • "'Termites' by Dave Smeds, also in the May [1987] Asimov's, is a moving work about cultural adaptation in a famine-ridden Africa, where genetically altered E. coli bacteria enable people to digest cellulose. The author did a fine job of extrapolating a complex problem from a seemingly simple solution." --Amy Thomson, Locus

    Suicidal Tendencies

  • Locus recommended reading list, 1994.
  • Year's Best SF honorable mention, 1994.
  • Nebula Award preliminary ballot, 1994.
  • Hugo Award semi-finalist, 1994.
  • "Dave Smeds takes a turbulent mother/daughter relationship to a wryly outrageous extreme in 'Suicidal Tendencies,' set in a future where death is not the end, and murder (or suicide) may only be an attention-getting device." --Faren Miller, Locus

    "Dave Smeds offers a...groundbreaking look at the age-old question of what to do for fun when you're practically immortal (Smeds's adolescents, not surprisingly, take to committing suicide in various colorful ways." --Robert K.J. Killheffer, Book World

    "The latest in the [Full Spectrum] series features...excellent stories. Dave Smeds provides an interesting view of the consequences of immortality in 'Suicidal Tendencies'." --Don D'Ammassa, Science Fiction Chronicle

    "...astonishing both in range and quality. Dave Smeds conjures a future where regeneration and eternal youth are made possible through nanotechnology; his story tells what happens to a dysfunctional mother and a daughter in a world where suicide is a hobby and murder a misdemeanor." --Publishers Weekly

    "'Suicidal Tendencies' by Dave Smeds explores the age-old problem of the generation gap between parent and child, which is complicated by artificially induced immortality. It is a...well-written story that goes below the surface of the physical action. It could be interpreted as either supportive, or an indictment of, modern social science. The narrative and dialogue are sharp, and the creative use of technology does not overshadow the human elements of the story, which are essential to its success." --Brad Beeson, Tangent

    "Smeds shoots for black comedy, vim, and bite. He succeeds." --Michael Bishop, SF Age


    "...the descriptions of karate matches in zero gravity and appeal. There is a point here--that as our environments evolve, so will our activities; those who can't adapt will be left behind. Showing this point in its effect on individual people makes the story work." --Maia Cowan, Short Form

    The Flower That Does Not Wither

  • Year's Best Fantasy & Horror honorable mention, 1993.
  • "The strength of [the Sword and Sorceress] series remains in the editor's ability to present such a variety of types and forms around the limiting theme. Light humor [gives example] is balanced with the macabre, particularly well represented by Dave Smeds's The Flower That Does Not Wither." --Rebecca Sue Taylor, Voya

    A Marathon Runner in the Human Race

  • Year's Best SF honorable mention, 1995.
  • "I liked [Dave Smeds's] "A Marathon Runner in the Human Race" in the March F&SF. It's a sweet love story, among other things. (Great title, too.) I'm especially impressed by the use of the third-person viewpoint. Yes, it's a traditional viewpoint, but Dave makes it feel like the first-person--he gets the reader inside the central character's head. Too often writers think they must use the first person to make the character come alive; Dave shows how third person can do that as well, if not better." --Michael Armstrong, Genie


  • Nebula Award preliminary ballot, 1996.
  • Tangent recommended reading list, 1996.
  • "Dave Smeds flawlessly hits every beat in his short story, 'Fearless.' Opening with a virtual reality karate tournament...the story develops as a respectful exploration of the true soul of karate and the benefits that true mastery can bestow. Of all the stories in the anthology, this one most clearly explores the theme and develops it." --Mark Kreighbaum, Tangent

    The Eighth of December

  • Year's Best SF honorable mention, 1996.
  • Year's Best Fantasy & Horror honorable mention, 1996.
  • "'The Eighth of December' by Dave Smeds, certainly my favourite story of [David Copperfield's Tales of the Impossible], is a very good alternate history with a rock singer whose shady past leads him to a fateful concert and an absolutely beautiful conclusion. I liked this story a lot." --Christian Sauve, University of Ottowa Review

    "This is a difficult story to summarize because it's so rich with historical reference and perspective. Mr. Smeds has taken key rock figures and made them symbols of the consciousness of their times. What happens to them, and how that affects the viewpoint's transformations, makes for intriguing reading." --Lillian Csernica, Tangent


  • Tangent recommended reading list, 1996.
  • Year's Best Fantasy & Horror honorable mention, 1997.

  • The Trigger

  • Year's Best Fantasy & Horror honorable mention, 1998.
  • "This is a good mystery/adventure, and I enjoyed the philosophical undertones wherein an increasingly reluctant hero escapes a portion of his destiny and still fulfills the inevitability of his fate. Smeds's story is solidly written, with an intriguing premise and a satisfying resolution." --Craig W.L. Anderson, Tangent

    A Wife of Acorn, Leaf, and Rain

    "Dave Smeds draws on the burgeoning contemporary tradition of modern urban fantasy to spin his delicate tale of the fairy wife leased by a distressed businessman. The protagonist is hideously lonely for his dead wife, but discovers that replacing her with an inhuman surrogate is a sublimely difficult act of balance." --Edward Bryant, Locus

    "'A Wife of Acorn, Leaf, and Rain' by Dave Smeds is one of my favorites, a poignant story about a man who taps into Faerie to find closure with his all-too-mortal wife." --Tom Knapp, Folk Tales